tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN March 13, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
hi, i'm brooke baldwin. the president is here in california, taking a look at wall proto types. his trip is being overshadowed by his own doing, his firing of secretary of state tillerson. he learned via the president's twitter account first thing this morning that he would no longer be america's top diplomat. in a speech from state just moments ago, tillerson thanked his staffers and thanked the american people for the honor of serving. but one person he did not mention and certainly then obviously not thank, president trump. >> what is most important is to ensure an orderly and smooth transition during the time that the country continues to face significant policy and national security challenges.
as such, effective at the end of the day, i'm delegating all responsibilities of the office of the secretary to deputy secretary of state sullivan. my commission as secretary of state will terminate at midnight march 31st. >> before leaving for california, the president talked about dismissing tillerson and replacing him with cia director mike pompeo. pompeo's number two, gina haspel, who we were just talking about, is expected to become the first female to lead the cia. >> rex and i have been talking about this for quite some time. we got along, actually, quite well. we disagreed on things. when you look at the iran deal. i thought it was terrible. i guess he thought it was okay. i wanted to break it or do something and he felt a little bit differently. so, we were not really thinking the same. with mike, my pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. i think it's going to go very
well. rex is a very good man. i like rex a lot. i really appreciate his commitment to the service and i'll be speaking to rex over a long period of time. >> let's take you now to california to san diego where chief white house correspondent jim acosta is traveling with the president. what should we be seeing and hearing from the president today? >> i think we'll see the president here not too long from now, inspecting the prototypes of the wall. he's going to be coming over here to the miramar marine air base in southern california to talk to marines. it will probably be a lot like we hear on these occasions when he tries to fire up the military crowd. he should get a good response, i can imagine. this almost feels like a vacation from the reality tv style turmoil. the president may be wondering
why he didn't come to california sooner. this is his first trip out here. because of everything he left behind, this chaos unfolding in washington, brooke, is extraordinary. over the last couple of weeks we've had one high-profile administration official after another departing, the latest being rex tillerson, secretary of state. i'm told by a white house official that the chief of staff, john kelly, informed rex tillerson he was on his way out last friday and made clear again to tillerson saturday this was happening and we saw all the events unfolding with the tweet and official statements and so on. this obviously is coming at a critical time for the president. i'm told by a source close to the white house that the simply wanted to have the right team in place for these high-stakes talks he's about to have with kim jong-un, the north korean dictator if, in fact, they happen. we should underline and caution that they may not, indeed, happen if they don't work out the way the white house wants them to work out.
make no mistake, this is obviously just one of many potential departures to come in the coming weeks, brooke. i talked to a source close to the white house who said winds of change are in the air, an indication that there may be other high-profile departures from this administration coming. it's another indication of this turmoil that this president seems to be in the middle of one week to the next. and one, brooke, that he seems to thrive on. you can see that on the president's face this morning when he was departing the white house, that he seems to really welcome this chaos, welcome this turmoil because he feels, perhaps, deep down that it results in the right kind of team being in place and, in the end, the right policies being in place. we thought that the president looking at prototypes of the wall would be the towering image s of the day. that's nothing compared to the secretary of state being out the door so quickly after all of
them coming into office. brooke? >> sure. 18th district over in pennsylvania, that huge, huge piece of news, not talking about much about that. the president said last week he likes conflict. there you go. jim acosta, we'll see you in a little bit along with the president of the united states. on rex tillerson it is important to note of how the timeline of the now outgoing secretary of state learned he was out. here you go. thursday morning secretary tillerson says the president is, quotes, unquote, a long way to talks with north korea. friday, tillerson is woken up in the middle of the night from a phone call from chief of staff john ankle ohio gives him a heads up he will be replaced but doesn't specify when. saturday, tillerson calls out sick on his trip to africa. monday the secretary strongly
condemns russia for the poisoning of this former russian spy lisk in the uk and his daughter, going at the time much further than the white house was willing to do. now this morning, president trump fires tillerson by tweet. just so we're all on the same page. counterterrorism cnn analyst and former cia and fbi official also with us, former congressman and ambassador to india under president obama. my apologies for the slow news day. i kid. ambassador romer, seriously, though, first just on secretary tillerson, listening to him speak, i heard two of our correspondents, one in the room who said he was visually trembling while he was speaking, not once mentioning in his thanks president trump. what did you make of his words a little while ago? >> brooke, i'm still scratching my head at the chaos, disruption and the tumultuous nature of our
politics today. three quick things. one, when the president fires our secretary of state by tweet and then our secretary of state fails to mention even the the president's name in his farewell, respect is eviscerated in our system. i was saying to phil in the green room respect is so fundamental as an american character. when that evaporates from our political system, even across the party lines, we're in trouble. secondly, on our foreign policy, what does chaos mean in our foreign policy? our allies don't know what to expect next from the united states. that inconsistency from the united states in this turnover, this inconsistency in our policy, in the state department and the white house having different messages, that creates a vacuum in the world that
russia is moving into very quickly and china is moving into in asia. that's not good for our policies overseas. for the state department, we have five ambassadors in key key positions that have not been appointed yet. to help us promote jobs in america, sing our values of democracy around the world. we don't have an ambassador to south korea, turkey, saudi arabia. that creates this great instability when we have wonderful people at the state department that can sell this message. and i guarantee you, brooke, the chinese ambassador is over there, the russian ambassador is over there in south korea and saudi arabia. they're talking about what they're doing. we need a state department that's fully engaged. >> we'll look at secretary of state pompeo.
we made this list of looking back over a brief history of time and where tillerson didn't see, shall we say, eye to eye with the president? you have what happened in charlottesville where tillerson said the president speaks for himself. and tillerson has never denied that he called the president a moron, disagreed with the president on the israeli embassy move and paris climate accord and the biggie being north korea. is it -- isn't it, phil, untenable to have the head of an agency where you have to have people who are confident new from around the world where you're speaking and on the same page with the president, not on page with the president? >> you can't have that over time. there's a different perspective on that. the president recently told us he likes conflict and likes to see people play out differences at the table so he can decide what to do in the future, i assume educated by those differences at the table but every time you turn around, he's taking out people that have a
different perspective than his own. when you look at the maturity that tillerson brought to conversations on iran and north korea, it's pretty simple. who will come to the table willing to tell the president they have a different perspective than him. this is classless. you terminated the former chairman of exxonmobil via tweet? this is classless. >> gentlemen, stay with me. i have more for you. we are waiting for pictures of the president who, by the way, is on the opposite coast in california, about to tour prototypes for his border wall. much more to ask the ambassador about tillerson's departure and his replacement, current cia chief mike pompeo. stay here. ♪ get into my car ♪ get into my car ♪ ♪ get outta my dreams ♪ get in the backseat, baby ♪ get into my car
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ambassador romer still with me, along with phil mudd. we can't sit here and read all the tea leaves. i certainly don't have all the answers. when it comes to the timing, here you have yesterday rex tillerson, the sole voice who broke with the white house, made it clear he believed it was russia behind that nerve gas attack with that former russian spy and his daughter over in the uk. do you have any idea if -- do you think that that was out of, at all, frustration with the white house and the refusal to ever criticize russia? will we ever know? >> i don't think we'll ever know, brooke. i do think you saw in secretary tillerson's farewell statement there that the one area on policy that he picked out was russia and if russia continues to do the kind of things they're doing, threaten iing our democry directly and our elections, targeting states and their software programs, having zombie
bot farms coming off our elections, poisoning people in london, looks like their fingerprints are all over that. that trajectory will get more difficult. those were wise words coming from secretary tillerson on that front. >> the cia director right now, director pompeo, he's the one who trump wants for the state job. what do you think of him? do you think he will fly through the process? >> i think he will. one basic question here. that is if you look at secretary tillerson's responses, cautious responses on iran and north korea, in particular on iran, director pompeo was very aggressive. for a president who wanted no intervention, will we be more aggressive on iran and north korea or less? that's a critical question going forward here with the nominee for secretary of state pompeo.
>> what if, in fact, he does fly through? easier for me to say. gets the job. then gina haspel will step up, be the first woman to helm the cia. you know her. tell me more about her. should her tenure at the cia overseeing the controversial torture program, should that be a black mark on her as she tries to move forward? >> no. she's not the first woman to run the central intelligence agency. technically. judgment, experience about the organization. she has a sense of humor. this will be debated about the interrogation techniques the cia used. the american people in 2002, including congressional member ice spoke with, were in a different place than they are in 2018. please don't tell me you want to judge one cia officer for what every american thought was okay 16 years ago. she was terrific.
>> phil mudd, ambassador romer, thank you, gentlemen, so very much. we are about to see the presidents, moments away from seeing the president there in the san diego area. is he in california today, first time since he became president. is he check og ut potential prototypes for the u.s./mexico border wall. stand by for that. we are also following this second stunning departure from president's inner circle. his personal assistant this week has been escorted out of the white house. sources tell cnn because taes because he's under investigation for serious financial crimes. who is this guy? where is he going next? we have those details next. heyi'm craving somethingkin! we're missing. the ceramides in cerave. they help restore my natural barrier,
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we're back. you're watching cnn. eyes on the president here near the mexican border. he is being presented with eight different prototypes of the border wall. only one will be chosen and one will be built along the border. they fall in two different categories. four are designed to be concrete walls and four are other materials. there you go. potential choices. designs have been tested on whether they can withstand breaches, prevent climbing, digging, their ability to slow down border traffic and whether they're safe for border agents. the president is there. we begin with miguel marquez on the other side of the border. walk me through these prototypes
that the president is checking out today. >> yeah. look, to be perfectly clear, it is a long way off from any of these prototypes being built. feen they were built, they might go in places in texas and arizona and other locations where there is a greater need at the moment for some sort of border protection. the different walls that he is viewing, they are prototypes that the president, out of his campaign, ordered up, wanting to see what they might look like. as you say, they are made of different materials. they have been tested over the last couple of months in a different facility. the president is seeing the different types. he is not likely to choose one of those walls. on both sides of the border it is raising if not curiosity, concern of what the president is
doing. a protest/rally against the president and the walls here on the san diego site right near the border that is heavily fence off and has a heavy border. the message here, if you can see this big sign, they're hoping to catch the president as he flies over. it says bridges, not walls, along here. this is something that we have heard from many people along this area of the border. the crowds here both rallies for the president and against have been respectful of each other, stay ed out of each other's way and tried to go about their business of expressing their views without getting into it amongst themselves. brooke? >> okay. miguel, thank you. over to tijuana, leyla, how is
it there? >> signs they've put up on this side of the border minutes ago. i'll translate for you. one of them says trump -- brgs speaking foreign language ] that means we will not pay for your wall and the other says we want these mass deportations to stop. clearly each can be seen with its own characteristics. as i was here yesterday i spoke to several people who towelly told me -- i was surprised by this. these designs, they're nice. they're pretty. they're an improvement to what we see right now but they will not stop crossings from mexico into the united states. that's something that has been repeated over and over again. that these designs may look nicer, but they don't believe that, a, it will actually ever be built and, b, that it will actually solve the problem that
president trump said is the need behind this wall. so as we have been here, talking to people, yes, there's been a lot of curiosity as to when will the president arrive. the protesters brought a pinata of president trump. said they were going to burn that pinata and then said no, we changed our minds. we want to make sure they know we are coming in peace and simply want him to know this will not solve the problem. mexico will not pay for the wall and we believe in bridges, not walls, on the border here between tijuana and san diego. brooke? >> we get a sense on one side of the border and then the other with the president talking to border patrol agents. let's bring in scott jennings, former assistant to president bush. this is potentially a campaign promise fulfilled, right?
but this is all overshadowed by the president's own doing, talking about the outgoing secretary of state and not this. >> yes, this has created something along his supporters and there's something more to than just building the wall. the issue of sanctuary cities which the white how has been pushing out information about today. this whole topic animated the president. however, the visual impact of seeing these eight prototypes does give you a sense maybe this is possible. then you start to ask questions like how is it possible? well, it's funding.
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it worked 95% and they could get over those walls easily. for the people who say no wall, if you didn't have walls over here you wouldn't even have a country. the state of california is begging us to build walls in certain areas. they don't tell you that. we said we won't do it without the whole wall. people are complaining. people are pouring n they don't talk about that.
>> you have to have see through. you have to know what's on the other side of the wall. you could be two feet way from a criminal cartel and don't even know they're there. now we have equipment to take care of that, x-ray equipment, et cetera. >> what do you think about the importance of three sooe through? >> when i have a see through wall, sir, i know what's approaching before it approaches. we have great partners in mexico with law enforcement on that side. i can call them for assistance. i don't get the opportunity to get ahead of a threat if i can't see the approach. >> and what's the danger of not having the see through. >> we found smugglers were using the fence to hide behind, rocking our agents or large
groups of people and narcotics and rush across the border quickly. >> a very sturdy fence. first thing i in theed, look how many holes are in the fence. they fix the holes. they patch it with more fence. if you take a look at the fence, it's a very powerful fence. not doing the trick. they're patching holes all the time. hundreds of holes cut in and patched. it's not strong enough. it's not the right idea. for those people if you don't have a wall system we're not going to have a country. they have the cartels, fighting the cartels. nobody ever fought them like we fight them. we fight them hard. it would be bedlamb i imagine. >> very hard to control. it's a combination. >> so we're looking at the walls
where you have some -- really some see-through capability. if you don't have some see through it's a problem. take a look up here. former act iing director. john, we're trying to listen in as best we could to what the president was discussing, holes in fences, want a see-through wall. i hear your laster. tell me why you're laughing. >> i never heard we need a wall.
mobile technology can allow us to detect intrusions, absolutely. a wall, not at all. there are certain areas that's necessary but the reality is that a lot of that was already built. i never heard them say they needed a wall. we heard the president saying we wouldn't even have a country without a border wall. weempeople can take issue with that. what's the best option? >> there is a lot of fencing. tijuana, san diego, hoardes of people. all those areas where you need that, strategically it makes
sense. technology allows to you detect intrusions and can be moved. it's very hard to explain. san diego in the 90s was crazy and wild. the threats shifted to rio grande valley. you won't have technology you can move along the border and be able to meet the threat. >> i know this is a campaign promise to the president. i want to know about pennies, nickels and dimes. what's the price tag for this thing and how long would it take to even build this? >> years. it would take years. extensive litigation. price tag would be billions of dollars. the kest of what they want, the technology that they need comes at a fraction of the cost of this wall and could be deployed a lot more quickly than can this
border wall. you're going to face extensive litigation. you have to buy property. you're going to have to seize property from individuals. it is a long and cumbersome and difficult process to build theway wall. it's billions of dollars that could be used in other aspects of border security. >> thank you very much, john, for weighing n jim acosta, our chief white house correspondent, who covers the president each and every day. i can see the thought bubbles of americans watching,ing everything from one end of the spectrum to is this seriously going to happen to, hell, yeah, build a wall. and i'm just wondering, i mean, do we even know who would pay for it? how is this going to work? >> i think those are very important questions, brooke. we were just down at the wall earlier this morning and talked to a woman from california whose mother is also from southern
california, mexican-american. they were expressing how hurt they were that this the president is building this wall. as the one woman was saying we should be building bridges not walls. in her mind, where was the love? that was the message she had for the president. there ares being sent to the latino community across this country. it's not one of love but one of hate and the president simply wants to wall off part of the country from another part of the world that he doesn't want coming in to the united states. putting all that aside, the conversation we had with this woman and mother aside, the president you just heard a few moments ago constructing the wall down there, one of those officials said to reporters, how could we afford not to build the wall when you consider all the crime, all the drugs coming into this country? they're continuing this portrayal that just about every
immigrant coming into the united states south of the border is bringing crime and drugs almost exactly what the president was say i saying in june of 2015. they've not gotten off that talking point. brooke, the reason that official is making that comment, how can we afford not to build the wall in the wall will pay for itself, is the very clear fact that they're not going to make mexico pay for this wall. as you know, brooke, we heard that time and again throughout the campaign. mexico is going to pay for the wall. well now the administration has switched to a new talking point, how could the american people not pay for the construction of the wall, considering all the problems coming into this country. you have the white house, the president, top officials almost on a weekly or, you know, monthly basis coming up with new talking points to try to sell this project to the american people. it's no surprise, just like the gentleman you heard from a few moments ago, why there are
raised eyebrows and skepticism about this project. the president wants this wall. a lot of people in his base want this wall. as i was mentioning about this woman and her mother at the border this morning, there's a feeling among a huge and growing part of the united states, huge and growing community in the united states that it sends the wrong message of exclusion to people at a time when this country is becoming more multicultural, not less. brooke? >> jim, thank you for all of that. we'll stand by waiting for the president. the photo-op there with the president, like we were talking about earlier, campaign promise fulfilled. this is like his dream photo-op. >> it is a dream for him to get this process rolling. what we have to do if you're the president and the white house, you have to convince congress to do this with you. and you've got to get the money. it's an expensive thing to do. right now, congress has been unwilling to do that. obviously there was some hope that -- >> sorry, scott, let's listen in to the president for a second.
>> at least it stops 90%, 95%. when we put up the real wall we'll stop 99%. maybe more than that. this is what it is now with a not very good wall. here it is before and the people just pouring across. >> this is one of the sections where we have double fencing. you have a wall here. it's outdated materials. sir, the economic driver of this outlet mall built after we re-established law and order in san diego sector and right behind that are 500 brand new homes where people have felt so safe by the border that they moved back in. that's only after border patrol re-established law and order. >> they re-established law and order in san diego when they put up a wall. it's an inferior wall but it's a wall. you said re-established law and order. this is life. these are the facts of life. that's incredible.
that's incredible. and a part of san diego needs a wall. they want a wall very desperately. they're willing to do anything they get it. i said no, approve the whole wall in camera. we're not going to do the little pieces that you want. approve the whole wall. you know the section i'm talking about. okay, folks. thank you. excuse me? i mean, we're looking very much at the wall with some see-through capability on the other side and solid concrete on top or steel and concrete on top. the round piece that you see up here or more clearly back there, the larger it is, the better it is. it's hard to get over the top. it's a detransit from getting over the top. who would think? getting over the top is easy. these are like professional mountain climbers, incredible climbers. they can't climb some of these walls. some of them they can. those are the walls we're not
using. we've determined -- you guys have done a fantastic job. we've determined what to do. if you didn't have it, you would have a tremendous problem. even the walls they have now, they're not holding out. they're not holding up. they're small but really great compared to what they had before. >> we're showing pictures of the united states before this, too. in tijuana, you don't have all activity hanging out either. it's not just our side. >> criticism from governor brown that this money would be better spent? >> governor brown has done a terrible job running the state of california. highest taxes in the united states. sanctuary cities where criminals are living in the sanctuary city and the mayor of oakland goes out and notifies when i.c.e. is
going in to pick them up and many of them were criminal with criminal records and very dangerous people. and, you know, i think the governor is doing a terrible job. i have property in california. i don't speak too much about my property anymore but i have great property in california. the taxes are way, way out of whack. and people are going to start to move pretty soon. if you don't have safety -- meaning if you don't have that kind of wall, the drugs are pouring through. the governor of state of california, nice guy. known him a long time ago. he has nonnot done a good job. tacks are double and triple what they should be. everybody who lives in california knows it. good bye-by bye, everybody. >> i.c.e., dhs. when you hear the president say
that the mexicans are professional mountain climbers, what? >> i think what was more disturbing to me is that somehow a wall will stop drugs from coming in this country. i've been standing not long from where the president is, in a drug tunnel. drugs are not coming in -- cocaine and heroin are not being seized between ports of entry. people crossing the border, very rarely are they bringing in cocaine and heroin. legal ports of entry, through cars, airs, up through the peaches. boats coming foo forth that money could be better spent elsewhere. >> john, thank you so much. scott and jim and everyone
weighing in on this tour of the border. coming up next, rex tillerson not the only person the president fired today. the president's long-time personal aide escorted out of the white house this week, as we're learning. he is actually under investigation for serious financial crimes. we'll take you to the white house coming up. zach! talk to me. it's for the house. i got a job. it's okay. dad took care of us. looking for a hotel that fits... whoooo. ...your budget? tripadvisor now searches over... ...200 sites to find you the... ...hotel you want at the lowest price. grazi, gino! find a price that fits. tripadvisor.
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for serious financial crimes. so our cnn reporter, and walter, the former director of the office of government ethics. what is he being investigated for and why is he landing out of the white house and over the campaign? he was a near constant presence, not as big of a name as rex tillerson but he did have a crucial role. he was fired and escorted off the grounds yesterday. and we have now learned today, cnn has learned the department of homeland security is investigating him for what we are told are serious financial crimes. we are told the crimes had nothing to do with president trump himself. but to give you an idea who he was, he was almost always by the president's side. almost always accompanied him besides the white house doctor
on almost every single trip the president took and he was even slated to go with him to california today. just to give you a sense of how often he was by president trump's side. and now this sudden departure. it shocked to white house staff, actually. it was first reported there was something with his background check but we are learning that he is beinged investigated. there's still not a lot of clarity on exactly what he was being investigated for. >> okay. when you hear the words serious financial crimes, what does that even mean? >> that's really troubling and it is hard to know what it means. kit mean almost anything. the security clearance process has a number of guidelines that you have to evaluate. two of them involve financial considerations and criminal activity. so we kind of hit both of those items. what's interesting, as she mentioned, the investigation is being conducted by the department of homeland security. it is the fbi that does your
background checks. so this is clearly completely different than just a background investigation. >> do you give the white house credit for taking security clearance issue head on? >> i wish i could. this is in some ways predictable. we just learned that they had carried, what? 130 people on interclearances. and maybe the reason you're carrying them to interim clearances is because you're reluctant to deny clearances if it will make the president's son-in-law look bad that he can't get a fully adjudicated clearance. so like with the rob porter situation, this is a problem of their own making. this mcentee has been in the white house for a very long time for whatever this problem is. >> speaking of problems of your own making. let's talk about kellyanne conway. someone you filed a complaint against some months ago. she's in the news because she was on board some of those expensive private flights along
with health and human services secretary tom price. i think i read tens of thousands and that's what caused fris resign. this is after we talked last being violating the hatch act. and the ivanka sfruf the briefing room. >> it's very strange. that she was on these planes with tom price was known at the time tom price was fired. i thought it was curious that they had nothing to say about her. this last week she was found guilty of two different hatch act violations by the agency in charge of investigating those and it is an ethics rule that says you can't use government authority or title or government resources to help a partisan candidate in their election. >> at the time of the alabama special election. >> that's right. so this is her third ethics violation. she famously told america to go buy ivanka's stuff. and when i was with ethics, we looked at that and recommended they take some action and they were completely uninterested.
the fact they're now uninterested in these two violations found by the agency that investigates hatch act violations is particularly startling because that agency is headed by a recent trump appointee who really did a good thing and showed some bravery and doing the right thing, showing that she violated it. six months ago they were saying good things about it and trying to get him confirmed. now they're ignoring him. so it seems that kellyanne conway can do anything she wants. >> nice to see you in person. thank you. breaking news today, president trump talked to the british prime minister with the poisoning of that former russian spy and his daughter. this is happening as we're now learning of another russian who was found dead in his home in london. this man, a known putin critic. what we know about him coming up.
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this russian exile, a critic of putin's, has been dead in his hole. this comes after the diplomatic storm between moscow and the u.k. over this attempted assassination of a former russian spy and his daughter. theresa may, the british prime minister, has spoken out blaming the kremlin for the nerve agent atta attack. "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. thanks, brooke. the man made famous for telling people you're fired doesn't seem to be able to say to it people's voices. "the lead" starts now. he would not deny that he once called president trump his boss a moron. now today secretary of state rex tillerson is out and breath being made on who might be next on the chopping block. and after firing his secretary